The Art Of Creole Cookery (1962)
Title: “The Art Of Creole Cookery”
Author: by WILLIAM I. KAUFMAN and SISTER MARY URSULA COOPER, O.P.
Publisher: Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, N.Y.
Year of Publication: 1962
Pages: ~ 240
Copyright Status: Public Domain in the United States and countries following the rule of the shorter term
What is Creole cookery?
It is a recipe itself; for ingredients take Classical French cuisine…
Combine with equal parts of Spanish and Anglo-Saxon classical cuisine…
Take herbs and spices from France and Spain coupled with…
seasoning learned from the Choctaws and Chickasaws…
Take ingenuity of the refugee Acadians (Cajuns) who had to…
learn the use of nature’s own foods wherever they were to be found and from whom we have the jambalaya, court bouillon, red beans and rice, grits, grillades, pain-perdu, coush-coush caille, and gumbos…
Add the exotic taste and magic seasoning power of the African cook…
Voila! Creole cookery! whose tenets are economy and simplicity governed by patience and skill to produce a subtle, exotic, and succulent cuisine recognized throughout the world; a cuisine which stands apart from all others.
In the course of Louisiana history great chefs and restaurateurs arose who created dishes destined to become famous among gourmets of all nationalities. Their cardinal rule was to mate meat, fowl, fish, or game with the fruits of the fields and woods currently in harvest. To do this they evolved five requisites for Creole cookery.
1. THE IRON POT — handed down from ancestor to ancestor
2. THE BROWN ROUX — blend of butter, flour, and stock used as a base for gumbos, stews, vegetables, fish, and fowl
3. THE STOCK — in which they used materials others threw away … all game, fowl, fish, meat leftovers, bones, carcasses, shells, skins, giblets, etc.
4. HERBS AND SPICES — French, Spanish, Indian in origin interpreted by Negro cooks who gave Creole cookery its exotic, distinctive flavor
5. ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES – exhaustive use of all known European grapes was made and that use was combined with knowledge of wild grapes learned from the Indians
Originally, Louisiana pioneers used only sugar rum in food but time and historic migratory changes added the use of whiskies, brandies, wine, etc., and from this evolved two schools of culinary thought. One, that alcoholic beverages should be added during the cooking; the other, that alcoholic beverages should be added to the food after the heat has been cut off. But in any event the Creoles devised wines and liqueurs from almost anything from which juice could be extracted. From fermenting cane juice comes Vin de Canne. Watermelons, pecans, geraniums, oranges, pineapple, rice, strawberries, kumquats, guava, figs, plums, and pomegranates were all utilized. A great favorite among desserts is a ball of crushed ice over which one or more of these fruit syrups, bran¬dies, or liqueurs have been poured.
It is to the Creole ingenuity that we attribute the creation of the cocktailan Anglo-Saxon version of the French word coquetier or egg cup in which an apothecary served a combination of brandy and bitters as early as 1793.
Despite the fact that Creole table service is formal and food customs still reflect the eating habits of the vieux carri (old French-Spanish quarter), Creole menus are surprising. There is an absence of conventional entries, and the novice gourmet will be introduced to such Creole delectable as fried pigs’ feet, calf s head, or curried liver.
Salads are most important in this cuisine, and Creole cooks are dedicated to the use of the chapona piece of bread rubbed with garlic and salt, placed in the bottom of the salad bowl while the salad is prepared and tossed, but removed before serving.
It is the custom in Creole families for each person to make his own salad dressing at the table, bearing in mind the advice of the ancient Spaniards that one must be miserly with the vinegar, lavish with oil, prudent in using salt, and spontaneous in stirring them all together to achieve a perfect blend. For the Louisiana gourmet the simple French dressing is considered best and most useful.
All Creole side dishes are prepared with great care and kept in a bainmarie (a roaster-like pan filled with hot water) to retain flavor.
Desserts are some exotic trifle which is a fragment of tradition, such as ambrosia, a combination of oranges, liberally sugared, chilled, and served with grated coconut.
In fine, no discussion of Creole cookery could be complete without mention of that small black cafs noir, coffee essential to every Creole meal. This specially brewed beverage, served in the tropical atmosphere of lush greenery, in a land perfumed with gardenias, is a gourmet experience never to be forgotten.
It is hoped that these “whiffs” of Creole cuisine will urge all the beholders of this book to try a hand at America’s most distinguished and distinctive contribution to world cookery. . .
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